By Laurel Senick
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well.” Psalm139:14 NIV
Figs are my favorite food especially when they are in season. I love to stand under the branches each summer and eat to my heart’s content. I said heart not stomach because eating fresh figs fills me with joy. Walking with Jesus also fills me with joy and thankfully I don’t have to wait until Jesus is in season.
There was a brief time when my walk with Jesus lacked joy. As a relatively new Christian I believed that as a child of God I had lots of work to do but wasn’t quite sure what. I had happily surrounded myself with other believers and assumed that there was a certain mold of Christian that pleased my Father best. Innocently I studied the other believers and began comparing myself, trying to be like them. Feeling inadequate, I tried on one outfit after another. Often, I felt like a phony. Not religious enough for some and too religious for others. I didn’t seem to fit in until I learned a lesson in horticulture.
One spring morning at our local Farmer’s Market I chatted with a fellow fig lover who sold fig saplings at his booth. He chuckled at my fig exuberance and told me about a man he knew who collected figs, more than a hundred varieties from all over the world. He had a large fig tree on his property, and he would graft the different figs he’d collected onto this one tree. The tree was planted in a large greenhouse so other varieties from warmer climates could survive. Each year when the tree produced its fruit, every branch he had attached emerged just as it would have on its own variety. Can you imagine it? More than 100 different figs all with their own unique shape, color and flavor fruiting on the same tree.
Suddenly I realized that God never intended me to be like any other child of God. The revelation exploded in my mind like a bite of fresh summer fig. God desired that I would bring all the qualities that he designed in me to His family. Grafted in through Christ’s precious blood, I am now the righteousness of God through Christ in my own unique way.
Now as a more mature child of God, something new has fruited in my spirit. My husband, Don and I have been ministering at the Harbor, a recovery detox center. Time and again we hear the cry of a broken child of God who feels like they have disappointed God one too many times. They are afraid to ask again for forgiveness. In their hearts they hope and pray this is the last time they ask, but it might not be. Already after only the five months that Don and I have been going we have seen a handful of unfortunate souls return.
I think it is true what Paul said in Romans 6:1, “Does this mean that now we can go ahead and sin and not worry about it? For our salvation does not depend on keeping the law, but on receiving God’s grace! Of course not!” But I also believe any sincere effort to quit sinning is met with the grace and mercy of God. Yes, we may fail repeatedly but just as Jesus tells us to forgive our brother when he comes to apologize 70 times 7 times, is God not more faithful than us? Of course!
I think some would read the story of the prodigal son and note that when the son returned and was perfectly restored, he never strayed again. And maybe he didn’t. But having been a believer for forty of my fifty years I can tell you that this is not true for me. Praise God he is able to rescue and restore us over and over again. It is his loving kindness that leads to repentance and his discipline that trains us in the way we should go. God always is good and for our good. Because he is a good, good Father.